One of the things 2008 (particularly by paid search advertising specialists) will be remembered for is the change in trademark rules here in the UK. However the first cracks have started to appear with the news that Interflora UK has started legal proceedings against both Marks & Spencers and Flowers Direct for bidding on Interflora (and various brand related misspellings).
Whilst both M&S and Flowers Direct are not breaking any Google Adwords Policies by bidding on Interflora brand terms, as Google changed the old Adwords Policies back in May this year, which allowed organisations to bid on competitor trademark terms – however they are not allowed to mention trademarks within the ad creative. However, Interflora UK is arguing that the actions of M&S are a breach of trademark law.
Michael Barringer, marketing director of Interflora UK, told OUT-LAW.com:
“The Interflora brand is extremely valuable and we will not tolerate competitors taking advantage of it and infringing our right.
“Throughout its history, Interflora has been forced to use legal means to prevent infringement of its valuable trade marks. This action represents only the beginning of a broader strategy to defend the Interflora mark against infringers.”
A spokeswoman for Marks & Spencers was quoted as saying that they were “extremely surprised by Interflora’s course of action”, adding that it was industry-wide practice and not unlawful.
Whether this will open the floodgates for further legislation remains to be seen, however this bound to have both advertisers and search agencies on the alert.